x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Plenty at stake for Carlton and Essendon

Those who have visited Australia, or who have taken some interest in the Great Southern Land, often speak in wonder at how its citizens can live with its extremely venomous spiders, snakes, stonefish, jellyfish, and so on.

Those who have visited Australia, or who have taken some interest in the Great Southern Land, often speak in wonder at how its citizens can live with its extremely venomous spiders, snakes, stonefish, jellyfish, and so on. Those people know nothing of venom. At least once a year the glands of supporters of the Carlton Football Club and those who follow Essendon produce more poison than a day-old Alice Springs prawn festival during an ice workers' strike. They hate each other passionately.

The Blues and the Bombers were foundation clubs from 1897. Both have 16 premierships, more than any other club. When they meet today, there will be more at stake than just old enmity. Both will be desperate to cling to their spots in the top eight of the ladder: Carlton on seventh and Essendon eighth. The Blues have made just one change for the meeting, with defender Bret Thornton coming in. The Bombers have suffered the loss of midfielder Mark McVeigh, who accepted a one-match ban for striking Melbourne's Jared Rivers last Friday, and Adam McPhee to a calf injury. Nathan Lovett-Murray and Henry Slattery have been named in their places.

Carlton are coming off their bye after giving leaders St Kilda a scare, ending a two-week winning run against West Coast by 41 points and Brisbane by one goal. Essendon beat Melbourne last week, after an expected 10-goal loss to Geelong and a 16-point defeat at the hands of Adelaide. pstafford@thenational.ae